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Vets Working With Vets: A Win-Win Arrangement

There is a widespread belief in the franchising industry that veterans make excellent franchisees, no matter the business involved. The reasons range from reliability and a willingness to work hard to proven leadership skills and the ability to follow a plan.

What veterans who become franchise owners are discovering is their fellow vets also make some of the best employees and partners.

Just as every military operation requires the combined efforts of a number of specialists, running a franchise requires doing more jobs than the vet-owner typically can handle alone. One solution is to hire other veterans with complementary skills. And because they, too, are accustomed to a military way of doing things, there is a greater chance of compatibility than might be the case with a civilian.

For example, a veteran interested in buying a Jiffy Lube® franchise may discover the franchisor is more interested in someone with business and leadership skills to run the franchise than experience in repairing or servicing vehicles. From the company’s viewpoint, employees can be hired to do those jobs; for the franchisee, the ideal candidates may well be former motor pool or other military transportation specialists.

“I have several franchisees who are veterans and will hire National Guardsmen, knowing full well they may be about to go to war – and that they are required to keep those jobs open until they get back,” notes VetFran Committee member Chris Loudermilk of The Dwyer Group®, which founded the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative.

“They still hire guardsmen because they not only have demonstrated honor and integrity, but are extremely hard workers, don’t gripe and moan about every little thing, don’t feel entitled, and show up on time in clean uniforms and a sharp overall appearance.”

A similar ease of cooperation often occurs when a veteran-owned business is looking for a vendor or other company with which to partner and turns to another veteran-owned business. In no small part, Loudermilk believes, that is because veterans tend to trust and respect for each other.

“From what I’ve seen, the bond that veterans have with each other is far more extraordinary than a lot of relationships. Having each other’s back in combat creates a whole new level of trust. So when they get out of the service, a lot of veterans prefer working with other vets,” he says.

Even so, as West Point graduate and former Army Capt. Dan Tidwell, owner of two DirectBuy® franchises in Houston, Texas, points out, veteran business owners must make the same kind of personality and skills’ assessments in hiring veterans as employees that their franchisors made in bringing them into their systems as franchisees.

“I have hired some former military personnel, primarily in sales and service, depending on their skill-sets. And that has been largely successful,” he says. “But we work on a commission and that is a difficult concept for military people, who are used to a regular paycheck. So even though they may have been exposed to physical risk while in the military, financial insecurity is a whole different thing.”

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J.R. Wilson has been a full-time freelance writer, focusing primarily on aerospace, defense and high...